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For The HELP! Desk:
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Battery Drain Response
In response to Jeff Solley's letter about battery drain (page 189 of the February 2008 issue), his problem may be using batteries that have too low a current capacity. I used to have a similar problem with my old Olympus E-10. My first set of rechargeable Ni-MH batteries were only rated at 1600 mAh. Between reviewing pictures on the LCD and using the flash, I could never get more than a handful of pictures before needing fresh batteries. I then switched to Ni-MHs rated at 2500 mAh, and got much more shooting time out of the camera.
Ira L. Lee, via e-mail

Thanks for your comments. A low capacity battery does sound like something that could result in rapid depletion of the charge.

Technique Query
Q. In the March 2008 issue, page 75, how is the photo of "Mark" (with a brightly colored hat) done? I work with a group of special kids and this looks like something that might interest them and keep their minds going in the right direction. Anyway, if you could help me locate some information on this procedure I would certainly appreciate it and I am sure the kids would get a big kick out of it.
Charles Anderson, Lewisville, TX

A. I e-mailed my old friend Barry Tanenbaum who wrote the article and he e-mailed Mark Steines, the photographer who made the illustrations, and received this reply. "This is a very simple technique if you have basic knowledge of Photoshop. The original photo exists in color. I opened it in Photoshop and created a new layer and boosted the saturation of each color in his hat to the max without distortion. I did not concern myself with the other portions of the photo since I knew they would be restored in the next step. I then used the Eraser tool and removed all the saturation from all the other areas of the photo, restoring it to its original form. At this point I had my original image with a very colorful hat. I then duplicated this layer and converted the entire image to black and white. Once I adjusted the tones of black and white to my liking, I used the same technique to erase the black and white layer to reveal the colorful hat on the layer just below. That's all!" Our thanks to Barry and Mark for providing this information.

C-41 Home Kits?
Q. I know this is no doubt a "stale" question at best. But, is there any source for C-41 kits for use in home labs? Everything I've read about C-41 kits calls them very forgiving and easy to get good results from. I'm OK with amounts of 1 gallon or so, but amounts of more than that would prove to be unmanageable for me. Any assistance with this problem would be greatly appreciated. I'm so tired of reading about it online, all the letters are starting to look alike.
Bob Martin, via e-mail

A. C-41 color chemistry (consisting of color developer and fixer) is available in kit form in smaller 1 liter and 1 quart sizes from a number of mail-order firms. Freestyle Photographic Supplies in Hollywood, California (800-292-6137, shows several small kits. The Arista 1 quart size sells for under $26 while the Unicolor 1 liter kit is $14. Porter's Camera Store (800-553-2001, also has some, including the Unicolor kit for negative film in quart size. At they list a Tetenal C-41 1 liter size kit for $23. These and other firms also list many sizes of separate C-41 chemical components (developer, developer replenisher, fixer) in various sizes, but they are intended for larger-scale users processing many rolls of film. I would stick with a 1 quart or 1 liter kit to start with. This size is adequate for processing a few rolls of 35mm or 120 film without needing to replenish the developer. These firms also offer processing tanks, reels, thermometers, and timers if you need these items, too.

Movie Gear Value
Q. My late father-in-law left behind classic movie equipment with which he recorded my wife as a baby; she is now 55. It is a Wollensak 16 and has a Keystone model D-18 and 16/8mm splicer. Any ideas what I should do with it? Any value whatsoever?
Kevin Schiermeister, via e-mail

A. In general, unless it's a very unusual camera (and I don't believe your camera falls into this category), the value of most movie cameras today is nil. You might just want to display it as a memory of times past.

Contax 645 AF
Q. I am seeking information about the Contax 645 AF camera. Specifically, was it manufactured by Contax or Zeiss? Where can I get information about it today?
Melvin Williams, Frederick, MD

A. For decades Contax cameras were marketed in the U.S.A. by Kyocera, but they went off the market a few years ago. In the 1930s through the '60s, 35mm Contax cameras were made by Zeiss Ikon but for many decades this brand was manufactured in Japan by the firm that also made Yashica cameras. The Contax 645 AF was introduced in '99. You can obtain additional information, including downloading instruction manuals, by going to our website at: At the top of the page click on "Links," then "Cameras," then "Manufacturers" where you will find Contax listed. Contax products can be serviced today by ToCAD America Inc. (53 Green Pond Rd., Rockaway, NJ 07866; (973) 627-9600;